Six long years we have waited for this moment. Six long, painful, empty years since we collected that final elusive star in Mario 64. Six long years since the last 'who-ho' and 'yeah-hay'. Sure, we've had various Mario spin-offs, like Mario Tennis, Mario Kart, Paper Mario- all great titles but not quite the same as Mario in his element. Finally it's here, so sit back and admire the glory that is our huge review...
Since the dawn of the NES every major Nintendo console launch has been accompanied by one plump little plumber, except, that is, for the launch of the GameCube. But fear not, ten months after the 'Cube premiered in Japan we finally got Mario! So is it any good? Well, take a guess.
If you said 'yes' then you would be totally correct! Mario 64 showed the quantum leap from 2D to the full glory of 3D platforming and Mario Sunshine shows how to do 3D a whole lot better. Early fears that Mario might of been shortened to be more like Luigi's Mansion can now be dashed, this game is huge. It might not be quite as big as Mario 64 but this time there is a hell of a lot more going on, hence a lot more to do and a lot more game.
Everything feels right the second you put the disk into your 'Cube. A lovely menu sequence appears and you can now enter the world of Sunshine. One of the great things about Mario 64 was the control system; it was so simple yet what happened on the screen was often very complex. The same is true for Sunshine. With just a simple flick of the thumb Mario will flip jump and twirl in numerous ways to gain access to new areas and find new treasures. However, the main treasure has changed. This time rather than collecting stars you have to collect shines, every time you find one you are treated to a little movie sequence, which ends with the wonderfully incorrect words 'Shine Get'. Righty, you've got the gist of things but there is one fundamental thing we've left out... The Water Cannon or FLUDD (Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device) and it is here that Mario Sunshine gets a bit different.
You may remember Prof. E. Gadd from Luigi's Mansion; well he is the supplier of the FLUDD and throughout the game you will get various upgrades for your talking hose. What? Talking you say? Yep, the glorified water disposal unit can talk to you. In its Bart Simpson-esque voice it gives you helpful but useless hints and tips throughout your adventure; think Navi but more 21st century. The opening level is basically a training level allowing you to get to grips with your moves and learn how to manipulate your surroundings. It has few dangers and allows you to do just about anything you want. Even when you've completed the game you'll still come back to muck around on the various pointless attractions. For example: There are many windmills dotted around that, when squirted, spin wildly and spurt out coins for your collecting addiction. Perhaps one of the most inspired ideas, however, are the tightropes. These elastic wires stretch between buildings and once reached you can propel yourself up, up and away, via a number of moves.
Unlike in some games though, everything is there for a reason and every object you find and thing that you do has purpose. The elastic wires allow you to access areas miles away and get up onto higher platforms. The Hub of the game is the village that you arrive in, here you find the locals that offer you clues to your quest in glaringly obvious ways like: 'I seem to remember a SECRET PASSAGE just around the corner'. But still, the distraction of being able to talk to them adds to the general feeling that you are actually there and not sitting infront of your T.V. One thing you can't forget is that you've actually got a game to complete. This game is one git of a distraction. Look around corners at your peril as your bound to find another bit of Nintendo magic. We wasted an entire day just sliding around in paint/mud, the thing is the entire idea is just so much fun and that's what a game should be about - FUN. Once you've done with sliding you can jump into a pond, or stream and wash it all off, and then do it again and again. The great thing is nobody stops you!
So we know that Sunshine is a whole heap of fun but what else does it have to offer? Well, as you might have noticed by the numerous screenshots, it is gorgeous. It may be simple and cartoony at its roots but the visuals offer so much more. All Mario games are bright and colourful but this one is just unbelievable. The amount of vibrancy is so amazing that we just don't have enough superlatives to describe how wonderful it looks. Also the amount going on is worth mentioning. Villagers walk around and the entire game seems to live and breathe all by itself. When you move around you permanently have that feeling that you might have missed something and you usually have, whether it be a hidden doorway or a ledge that seems unreachable you know you must find out what's up/behind there and so you start exploring. But then you discover some paint and start sliding about for hours forgetting what you were going to do but it just doesn't matter because you'll do it next time, providing you don't get distracted again, like a good book you just can't put it down! The invitation to explore is always there and believe us you'll always want to!
You might not have noticed how important sound is in a game. If you don't believe us try something like Zelda: OOT with your TV on mute and see how, erm, odd it feels. So your gonna want some cool music and lots of 'wa-hayin' to accompany the stunning visuals, and this is where one of only two gripes come in.... Yep, even perfection has faults. In any other game we would overlook this but in a game of such a high quality you have to get a bit picky. So here's the problem the music could be better. Remember in previous Mazza games you'd find yourself humming the tunes for hours on end, much to everyone else's annoyance, as then they'd start doing the same, to put it simply they were very, very catchy. However, this time they seem to be missing something, we can't quite put our fingers on it but it feels a little more sedate and electronic, but all in all the sounds complement the game perfectly and that's all they need to do. You can tell that a lot of thought has been put into this game, it just oozes love (enough Darius already - Ed) the amount of little touches that have been put in just because, is huge and it is this (amongst all the other aspects we mention) that make this game so special!
There are plenty of winks and nods to past Mario games but none are more prominent than the Old Skool sections (our name for them, not thiers). Here you have your backpack removed and have to complete a section without it, just like old times... You'll have to negotiate mini (but massive) obstacle courses with nothing more than pure gaming skills. This is where practicing those moves and exploring in the normal game come in handy. Using your skills you can jump, spin and slide your way to safety. These sections may be hard but you'll feel like a gaming god when you complete them! Your reward is a lovely new shine... Oh did we mention there are 120 to collect! Ahhh!
Remember that feeling of fresh air and the great outdoors, well don't go getting to attached as just when you think you've squeezed every aspect from this game you go and discover another pointless task to entertain yourself, all of which are put in there on purpose, you're meant to find them, but you'll have to look to find some of the more visually impressive and special ones. Despite all the new sights and sounds Mario Sunshine is reassuringly familiar. It's as addictive as ever and it's not just pointless activities that keep you coming back: this game is bloody difficult! It has the perfectly crafted learning curve and even Mario rookies will be able to pick it up in minutes. But the difference between being able to run and jump and complete the thing is huge, the great thing is you never feel hard done by. As you go through you get better and better but the difficulty moves with you. Even so at times you are tested to the limits. Picture it you've found another shine icon and your on your last inch of life through the effort of trying to get it it's nearly in your grasps but then you die and as ever you'll want to try and try again until you get it, no matter how much sanity you loose in the process!
Oh, and about that second teensy problem, the camera is as good as it was in Mario 64 but it can be moved around with a flick and a tilt of the C-stick. But no worries this detracts in no way to the overall enjoyment of the game and the fun rarely dies down. To be totally honest we could go on for pages more about all the great features in Sunshine, but that would ruin it for you. Instead, you can fully appreciate the true brilliance of this game yourselves. It may not quite be (and believe is it wasn't far off) the game that Mario 64 was but Mario Sunshine IS the second best platformer ever - celebrate that, this is one awesome game, buy it, it's totally amazing!
Mario Sunshine's best assets. It plays so well and the whole package is inventive and imaginative. Whilst it isn't the leap forward that Mario 64 was this is the best platformer on the GameCube.
Sharp, bright and oh so Mario. Perhaps the textures are a bit bland at time but this game has so much character we don't really care.
Typical catchy Mario tunes but we can't help but feel that there is something missing here. They sound good, but aren't a mark on the best Mario has had to offer over the years.
It isn't the longest of games but there is more than enough to keep you amused. With loads of different environments and the like to explore and some very challenging sections Mario Sunshine will last you an age.
One of the best games in recent years and a deserved addition to any GameCube owners collection, Super Mario Sunshine is poetry in motion. Whilst not as perfect as many would like there is enough fun and challenge here to keep any fan happy. Whilst in many respects this is not so much a sequel to Mario 64 but more a new game it is still able to hold its own. You don't need to be told that a Mario game is good, but just incase you do, this is excellent.